DEAR ABBY — My sister "Eileen" is married to her second husband, a man I'll call Harry. He's nice, but some of his choices landed him in jail for a while. I'm polite when we see him, but I don't trust him.
Eileen and Harry live beyond their means. They rent a large house and buy luxury cars rather than something more economical. These are my observations; I never mention them to my sister. Although she's happy to give advice on what's wrong with my life, she becomes defensive if anyone else says anything about how she lives.
My concern is, she refuses to visit or spend time with me and my family without her husband. Before our mom's death a few years ago, I offered to buy her an airline ticket to fly here for a few days to visit. Because she's very organized, I recently invited her to come — at my expense — and offered to pay her to help me declutter my house. She declined both invitations because I wouldn't buy a ticket for Harry. (I didn't have the money.)
I think my sister's marriage is very co-dependent. Abby, what should I do?
Wants some sister time
DEAR WANTS SOME SISTER TIME — While Harry may have made some poor choices in the past — for which he has paid the penalty — he seems to make your sister happy. Assuming that you have told her you love and miss her and would like to be able to spend "sister time" with her, I think it's time to accept that they are a package deal and stop trying to separate them.
Because you crave sister time, offer to go there and visit her. She seems to be happily living the life she has chosen, so stop putting negative labels on her relationship with her husband.
DEAR ABBY — I never thought I'd be writing you, but I have a situation that needs an objective opinion.
My husband works for a small company owned by a nice couple. They have a teenage daughter who keeps asking to baby-sit our three kids. Abby, we have a special needs child and a new baby. Although the girl seems to be kind and responsible, our children would be a challenge for an adult, let alone a teenager.
Also, we are on a very tight, one-income budget with money needed for therapies. I don't want to mention it because I don't want to insinuate they aren't paying my husband enough, but it is a serious deterrent.
How can I gracefully decline her offers without offending my husband's employer? Keeping him in good standing with his company is my primary concern because he works hard and loves his job.
Anonymous in the USA
DEAR ANONYMOUS — Explain your refusal as an abridged version of what you wrote to me. Thank the girl for her kind offer and tell her that because your older child has special needs and the baby requires constant supervision, you prefer not to have anyone baby-sit until they are older. The explanation is reasonable, logical and the truth.
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